‘In this world, we so rarely open our hands to the sky to ask for help’
Cecilia Knapp is a writer, performer, poet and facilitator who talks candidly about mental health in her work. Cecilia believes in the power of writing and sharing stories as a means for people to express themselves, particularly when it comes to social stigmas. In her TEDx Talk, Cecilia shares her thoughts on the power of writing for health and wellbeing, and the importance of challenging stigmas related to mental health.
Real bravery lies in sharing our stories with each other… I share my stories through my writing, but I think there’s a massive value in all forms of creative expression. I think creativity can be transformative, I think it can allow us to access feelings that we normally deny ourselves…When people don’t have an outlet for their feelings it can have a really negative impact on them, but making your emotions tangible through expressing them creatively can empower people to confront and contain otherwise abstract and daunting feelings.
Read more from Cecilia in this interview with Mental Movement Magazine – excerpts below.
I’ve written a one woman show called ‘Finding Home‘. It’s about a lot of things. It’s about growing up and leaving home and falling in love and finding your place in the world. But predominantly, it’s about the loss of my older Brother to suicide and how a bereavement like that affects a person, and a family. Bereavement, it seems, is an uncomfortable thing to talk about. But suicide, people find that very uncomfortable. It’s clouded in this dark stigma. But this stigma serves to alienate those suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts because it’s such a taboo subject, they can feel as though they can’t seek help. It also alienates those who have been bereaved by suicide because people are very awkward around the subject.
I wanted to make a show that talks candidly about mental health, in this case, the depression my brother experienced, and in this way, normalise it a bit more. I also wanted to talk about what it’s like to lose someone to suicide, and raise the profile of this experience so those bereaved don’t feel so alone. I think creativity can play a huge part in helping people, whether they can use a creative outlet to express themselves, or watch or read something that unifies them with others and makes them feel less isolated. That’s what I wanted from the show, to show the messy, human side of grief that isn’t spoken about enough. I haven’t personally experienced any prejudice in writing and performing the show, I’ve only had positive reactions because I think people think it’s an important piece of work that tries to demystify mental health, suicide and bereavement. But I suppose the piece is a reaction to a world that isn’t vocal enough about mental health and grief.
Don’t be silent. Talk, create, write it down and feel how getting it out helps beyond measure.